Presentation is loading. Please wait.

Presentation is loading. Please wait.

First Amendment, Libel and Ethics Review

Similar presentations

Presentation on theme: "First Amendment, Libel and Ethics Review"— Presentation transcript:

1 First Amendment, Libel and Ethics Review
Freedom vs. Responsibility

2 The First Amendment Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances. As part of the founders’ plan to ensure that individual freedoms would be respected, they enacted the Bill of Rights, the first ten amendments to the U.S. Constitution. The very first of those amendments restricted the government’s right to enact laws that interfered with five specific individual freedoms: freedom of religion, speech, press, assembly and petition. Though the First Amendment contains exceptionally strong language limiting government interference of these freedoms — “Congress shall make no law,” the amendment begins — we have come to accept that the rights protected are not absolute. At times, the freedoms guaranteed by the First Amendment can conflict with other important rights or obligations and a balance between the two must be reached. For example, because of the threat to public safety and the general welfare, it is has been famously noted that there is no free speech right to scream “Fire!” in a crowded theater. As we’ll talk about later, there is also no First Amendment right to publish libelous statements or material that invades another’s legal right to privacy or that infringes on a valid copyright. Still, the First Amendment remains an ongoing promise by our government that, but for exceptional reasons, it will not interfere with the right of its people — including its youngest citizens — to engage in freedoms deemed so essential.

3 The First Amendment A promise by the government to respect the individual rights of its people relating to: Religion Speech Press Assembly Petition First Amendment rights are not unlimited

4 The role of a free press Creating an informed citizens Watchdog
“Marketplace of ideas” Watchdog “Conscience of society” Several theories attempt to explain why it is important to protect the right of free speech and free press in a democracy. A healthy democracy requires an educated and informed citizenry that has access to the latest ideas and most accurate information from a wide variety of sources. Consequently, one of the most powerful justifications for safeguarding a free press is that free expression is the “protector of truth.” Under this theory, speech competes in what has been called the “marketplace of ideas,” where ideas and opinions are vigorously debated and tested. Some ideas will be rejected outright; others may be changed and reworked. Ideally, however — in the end — the best ideas and most accurate information will survive. Censorship skews such results. The speech that survives is not necessarily the best or most accurate, but simply that favored by the censor. A second rationale for free expression and press freedom is its importance in ensuring that citizens can prevent the abuses of those in power. In fact, it is often said that the media is the “watchdog” of a free society. Throughout history, those in power have tried to increase their influence and control by stifling dissent and censoring critical voices among those they govern. A free, robust and independent press is a vital means for the people to keep an eye on those in positions of power. Finally, more idealistic advocates of the First Amendment argue that the primary responsibility of the media is to bring about needed social change. As the “conscience of society” the media should ferret out and publicize social problems and injustices in order to improve the plight of the underprivileged.

5 “[W]ere it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter.” — Thomas Jefferson Letter to Colonel Edward Carrington (January 16, 1787) Whatever the rationale, the importance of a free press to a democratic society is nothing new and was widely acknowledged as among the most important goals of our country’s founders. Reacting to the ruthless acts of censorship practiced by most European governments of his day, Thomas Jefferson once famously noted that “were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter.” To make sure that America did not fall into the same patterns as many of the corrupt and oppressive governments that preceded it, our country’s founders looked to try something different. In fact, in its earliest days America was called by some “The Great Experiment.” The new American system — a government of the people, by the people and for the people — had never been tried before. It was intended to be a limited government controlled by the people governed instead of the other way around.

6 Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District
A case where students were suspended from school for wearing black arm bands in protest of the Vietnam War Mary Beth Tinker (right) with her mother, Lorena, and younger brother, Paul

7 Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District (1969)
The U.S. Supreme Court recognizes that the First Amendment protects on-campus student speech

8 Neither students nor teachers “shed their constitutional rights to freedom of expression or speech at the schoolhouse gate.” — Supreme Court Justice Abe Fortas Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District(1969)

9 Physically disruptive speech
Unlawful speech Physically disruptive speech

10 Which types of speech are not protected by the First Amendment?
Defamation (includes libel, slander) Fighting words Obscenity (Child pornography) Incitement to imminent lawless action Perjury Solicitations to commit crimes Commercial speech that is false or deceptive may be regulated

11 A school’s unsupported claim that a publication could disrupt school activities or might incite lawless activity is not enough to satisfy Tinker. Best proof of a disruption is: School walkout Fight Damage to school property

12 Hazelwood School District v. Kuhlmeier (1988)
The U.S. Supreme Court significantly reduces the level of First Amendment protection provided to most school-sponsored student media at public high schools

13 Hazelwood case involved divorce, birth control, abortion, and runaways

14 What did the Hazelwood case mean for public school newspapers?
The Supreme Court ruled that administrators and/ or school board members have the power to censor a school newspaper.

15 What did the Hazelwood case mean for public school newspapers?
When a school's decision to censor is "reasonably related to legitimate pedagogical (teaching) concerns," it will be permissible. In other words, if a school can present a reasonable educational justification for its censorship, that censorship will be allowed.

16 What did the Hazelwood case mean for public school newspapers?
In essence, the majority opinion of the Supreme Court said that the rights of public school students are not necessarily the same as those of adults in other settings. The student newspaper at Hazelwood East High School, it said, was not a "forum for public expression" by students, and thus the censored students were not entitled to broad First Amendment protection

17 “Reasonably related to legitimate pedagogical concerns”
Is there a reasonable educational justification? Examples include material that is: “Biased or Prejudiced” “Unsuitable for immature audiences” “Ungrammatical” Material that would “associate the school with anything other than neutrality on matters of political controversy”

18 The Fraser Standard (Bethel School District. No. 403 v. Fraser, 1986) In the case of Bethel v. Fraser, the Supreme Court ruled that school officials could punish high school senior Matthew Fraser for giving a speech before the student assembly that contained lewd references.


20 MORSE v. FREDERICK At a school-sanctioned and school-supervised event, petitioner Morse, the high school principal, saw students unfurl a banner stating “BONG HiTS 4 JESUS,” which she regarded as promoting illegal drug use. Consistent with established school policy prohibiting such messages at school events, Morse directed the students to take down the banner. When one of the students who had brought the banner to the event—respondent Frederick—refused, Morse confiscated the banner and later suspended him. The school superintendent upheld the suspension, explaining that Frederick was disciplined because his banner appeared to advocate illegal drug use in violation of school policy.

21 MORSE v. FREDERICK Because schools may take steps to safeguard those entrusted to their care from speech that can reasonably be regarded as encouraging illegal drug use, the school officials in this case did not violate the First Amendment by confiscating the pro-drug banner and suspending Frederick. Frederick’s argument that this is not a school speech case is rejected. The event in question occurred during normal school hours and was school sanctioned event at which the district’s student-conduct rules expressly applied. Frederick stood among other students, teachers, and administrators across the street from the school and directed his banner toward the school, making it plainly visible to most students. Under these circumstances, Frederick cannot claim he was not at school.

22 MORSE v. FREDERICK The Court agrees with Morse that those who viewed the banner would interpret it as advocating or promoting illegal drug use, in violation of school policy. At least two interpretations of the banner’s words—that they constitute an imperative encouraging viewers to smoke marijuana or, alternatively, that they celebrate drug use—demonstrate that the sign promoted such use. This pro-drug interpretation gains further plausibility from the paucity of alternative meanings the banner might bear.

23 What has this decision meant for high school students?
MORSE v. FREDERICK What has this decision meant for high school students? Students can be held accountable to the code of conduct off school grounds. Drug abuse by the Nation’s youth is a serious problem. For example, Congress has declared that part of a school’s job is educating students about the dangers of drug abuse, see, e.g., the Safe and Drug-Free Schools and Communities Act of 1994, and petitioners and many other schools have adopted policies aimed at implementing this message. Student speech celebrating illegal drug use at a school event, in the presence of school administrators and teachers, poses a particular challenge for school officials working to protect those entrusted to their care.

24 State Anti-Hazelwood Laws These states give students more freedom
Arkansas California Colorado Iowa Kansas Massachusetts Pennsylvania Washington Extra Info: Not on the test

25 How did school newspapers change during the 1960’s and 1970’s?
Students took a more active role in politics and social change. Students wanted their school newspapers to address the issues that directly affected their lives.

26 Why did school newspapers change during the 1960’s and 1970’s
Their awareness was due to the Vietnam War and the Civil Rights Movement.

27 In legal terms what is a forum?
It is a place that public speech is protected. "Streets and parks...have immemorially been held in trust for the use of the public and, time out of mind, have been used for purposes of assembly, communicating thoughts between citizens, and discussing public issues. 

28 Define Censorship: The simplest censorship is prior restraint.
It stops one from doing something

29 How could censorship affect what is put into a school newspaper?
Supreme Court Justice Brennan said that the censorship at Hazelwood East "aptly illustrates how readily school officials (and courts) can camouflage viewpoint discrimination as the 'mere' protection of students from sensitive topics." You shouldn’t be censored just because someone doesn’t like your opinion

30 Briefly list at least four ways to avoid censorship:
Advisers & editors should stress that reporters gather all facts fully, fairly, and accurately Editor and adviser should have a working relationship with the administration Staff members should know the law Use proper procedures


32 What is obscenity and what are its conditions?
Obscenity is offensive to accepted standards of decency or modesty Conditions of Obscenity: Apply current community standards Does the work depict in a patently offensive way an illegal sexual conduct The work, taken as a whole, lacks any serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value. Community values vary, so rulings on obscenity vary.

33 The simplest answer is good taste and sound ethics.
According to the textbook what is the simplest reason why newspapers don’t print obscene language? The simplest answer is good taste and sound ethics.

34 ACLU v. State of Michigan

35 High School Students And the First Amendment: Restricted Vs. Protected

Download ppt "First Amendment, Libel and Ethics Review"

Similar presentations

Ads by Google